XP Remains an Option for Windows

    April 8, 2009

If you’re Microsoft, it probably isn’t the most comforting thought to know the biggest headline about your new OS, Windows 7, isn’t about features or updates… it’s about supported downgrade options.

Of course if you are a Vista person who has already downgraded back to XP, today is a good day for you.  Microsoft has announced that the new Windows 7 OS will have downgrade support to both Vista and XP.

In an interview with Mary Jo Foley a Microsoft spokesperson explained:
"This is not the first time that Microsoft has offered downgrade rights to a version other than its immediate predecessor and our volume-license customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows."

What wasn’t so explicitly stated however was whether or not Microsoft will extend its support timeline for Windows XP.  The fact that they are going out of their way to let everybody know XP will remain a downgrade option with Windows 7 tends to lead me to believe they are not going to be in any big rush to mothball XP.

The Vista experience was nothing short of miserable for a huge number of Microsoft users.  It became fodder for Mac commercials and got so bad that Microsoft even quit calling it Vista in it’s own promos.  Opting instead to have users in the commercial talk about how cool the ‘Mojave Project’ was.  (If I’m Microsoft I’m still looking to downgrade the marketing genius that came up with that little gem.)

Microsoft doesn’t generally provide active support for more than 2 versions of Windows.  As a result, with Windows 7, there was probably more nervous apprehension about the loss of XP support than there was buzz for the new OS.  It’s probably a smart move on their part to come out well in advance of launch and settle down all their XP users.

The question now becomes…  how long?  For now at least, Windows XP is a currently supported downgrade option but at what point does that come to an end?  Maybe the thinking is that Windows 7 will be so universally loved and devoid of Vistas hardware conflicts and end user disdain, that people will flock to the new OS and forget all about XP and Vista in no time.  It would pretty much be an unprecedented first for Microsoft, but I guess stranger things have happened.